By Ireland Shelton, MUTV-23 News reporter

COLUMBIA- The game of chess involves a lot of thought, concentration, intelligence and focus. Only some have the talent to play the game and play it well. And even fewer are skilled enough to play it virtually.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mizzou chess team has had to adapt and change the way they play chess.

“A lot of tournaments are not happening, instead there are a lot of online events,” gamemaster and team member Christopher Repka said. “It’s just not the same. It doesn’t count to the official ranking.”

Now, most competitions are held online via Zoom. Mizzou plays other collegiate chess teams over Zoom. The game time controls are now ten minutes and players have to have their camera on where they can be seen the whole time. 

“Despite all the challenges, I’m happy that the organizers that usually organize the classical events decided to still organize these events in a different format,” Repka said.

While competitions and game play have looked different, there have been some benefits to quarantine for the world of chess.

“I know that chess viewership increased a lot during the pandemic,” Repka said. “Maybe it has something to do with people spending more time at home and having time to watch. But I think the chess world didn’t suffer.”

Coach Cristian Chirila thinks quarantine gave everyone a lot more time to watch chess. Chirila also said that the Netflix show, The Queen’s Gambit, also helped chess become more mainstream.

“I think more or less in March, when everything started going off the grid, chess experienced a boom on Twitch specifically,” Chirila said. “People are just watching a lot of streams and there’s a lot of very popular streamers. That kind of took the game of chess by storm.” 

Chirila also said that the pandemic has not only helped chess gain visibility but has been more convenient for teams who do not receive a lot of funding because competitions are virtual and travel costs are low.

Edited by Rachel Henderson

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